Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart! But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, My steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pains in their death, And their body is fat. They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace; The garment of violence covers them. Their eye bulges from fatness; The imaginations of their heart run riot. They mock and wickedly speak of oppression; They speak from on high.They have set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue parades through the earth. Therefore his people return to this place, And waters of abundance are drunk by them. They say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?” Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure And washed my hands in innocence; For I have been stricken all day long And chastened every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” Behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children. When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form. When my heart was embittered And I was pierced within, Then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.
Psalm 73 is a picture of one walking the road of surrender. Asaph saw many wicked people prospering, he nevertheless chose to stay on the right path—the only one that led to true life in the end. But in those moments when we look around and see people who despise God prospering, it may become tempting to ask, “Is it worth it?” The envy in our hearts isn’t as easy to shake as we had hoped, and jealousy sets in. We say with the psalmist, “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure.” Psalm 73 expresses emotions we have hidden in our hearts.
The fact that there is an inspired prayer in the Scriptures should be an immense comfort to us. It shows us that even godly people deal with feelings of envy, and it points us back to the God who is able to deal with our envy. Asaph had many questions boiling inside him, but when he entered the sanctuary of the Lord, thankfully God was gracious to meet him in his envy. And God will meet us in our envy, too. When we find we are filled with envy, God is always available. Rather than turn our envy into unproductive bitterness, turning to God transforms our feelings of envy into something productive—confession and worship.
- What was so frustrating to the psalmist?
- Have you ever felt like the psalmist? What might make someone wonder whether the path with Jesus is really worth walking?
- Confess your feelings of envy and bitterness to the Lord.